POMEROY — The Village of Pomeroy will continue to operate its police department, at least on a scaled back basis, for the remainder of 2019.
Village council voted, during a special meeting on Monday evening, to take out a loan from Farmers Bank for $30,000 to fund the department, paying it’s two full-time officers (one of whom is off on paid sick leave), and to add a part time officer to work over night hours.
Council had been taking steps since the summer to help reduce costs regarding the police department in anticipation of less funding than previous years. Multiple shifts had been cut, leaving the department closed several evenings and overnights per week in an effort to continue operation for the remainder of the year. Council also asked that the daytime officer vary his hours in order to offer coverage at different times of the day.
Mayor Don Anderson explained that while it is not ideal to take out a loan to fund the department it is the best solution at this point, in his opinion. Anderson explained that shutting down the department entirely would hurt the village, its residents and the two long-time officers who have spent their careers with the village. Anderson noted that those two long-time employees (an officer and chief) are expected to retire at the end of 2019, with one having already submitted retirement paperwork and one verbally indicating the intent to retire.
Council member Vic Young stated at the meeting that if the village were to take out a loan to fund the department he would like to see the addition of a part time person to patrol the neighborhoods in the village over night to ensure the safety of residents and their properties, particularly during this time of the year when crimes tend to increase toward the holiday season.
Anderson said the hope is that the village would not be in the same financial situation in 2020, as the two largest salaries would be gone from the budget with the retirements, and it is possible that the village could see an increase in income tax revenue.
In order to avoid the same financial situation, Anderson said the village would be looking to hire a police chief, beginning the search soon in order to find the best possible person for the job. They would then operate with limited staff until the loan is paid back and the department would recover from the deficit it is currently in regarding the police department finances.
It was also discussed how the village could bring additional revenue into the police department, with the idea of bringing back parking meters on the streets downtown briefly discussed. Initial conversation, brought up by Young, would be for the meters to be on the streets, but leave the parking lot open for free parking. As Monday’s meeting was a special meeting for the purpose of the police department, no action was taken on the possible changes to the parking meters.
The next regular meeting of Pomeroy Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.